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This Week on Stage: The 'South Park' team sets a new standard for the 21st century Broadway musical

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Book Of Mormon
Joan Marcus

Theater lovers already mourning Liz Taylor and Helen Stenborg lost another hero this week when 73-year-old Lanford Wilson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer of the three Talley Trilogy plays and an off-Broadway icon, died on Thursday.

In Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark news, an onstage injury forced Arachne actress T.V. Carpio to take a two week leave from the musical, while the production’s creative team reportedly cut the show’s much maligned “Greek Chorus.” And in every-other-play news, more actors — specifically Jon Cryer and Christina Hendricks — joined the upcoming star-filled New York Philharmonic production of Company, and the Barbra Streisand-led Gypsy film adaptation (supposedly killed by writer Arthur Laurents last week) might get a second chance at Universal.

In the meantime, our critics saw three new Broadway plays that all earned grades of a B or above.

The Book of Mormon: EW film critic Lisa Schwarzbaum called the comedy, by South Park’s Trey Parker and Matt Stone and Avenue Q’s Robert Lopez, “an exhilarating Broadway musical at once revolutionary and classic, funny and obscene, uncompromising in production standards and unafraid of just about anything else.” She gave it a A, writing that this “is what 21st-century Broadway can be. If Broadway has the balls.”

Ghetto Klown: John Leguizamo’s most recent one-man show hit some familiar notes for writer Keith Staskiewicz, who feels the growing-up-in-the-ghetto stories and Hollywood tell-all tales felt a bit old hat. But Leguizamo’s unflagging energy keeps the two-and-half hour B+ effort afloat: “”Ghetto Klown is like hitching yourself to the back of a race car: Even if you end up seeing some of the same scenery, it’s still a heckuva ride.”

Priscilla Queen of the Desert: “Imagine La Cage aux Folles crossed with Rock of Ages and a dash of Mamma Mia! and you’ll get some sense of what awaits you at Broadway’s latest jukebox musical extravaganza,” says EW stage editor Thom Geier about this adaptation of the 1994 Aussie film. He gives it a B, predicting that it’s “a safe bet that Priscilla Queen of the Desert will not supplant Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark as Glenn Beck’s favorite musical, but others will doubtless have a gay old time.”